On my way back from St. Petersburg, Russia, I had the great pleasure of staying at the Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah for one night. From the moment I stepped through its opulent doors, I knew I was staying somewhere special. Located on the European side of Istanbul in the charming neighborhood of Pera, this upscale hotel is housed in a grand 19th century building. It was built for the purpose of hosting the passengers on the Orient Express and holds the title of “the oldest European Hotel of Turkey”!
Pera Palace Hotel was built in 1892 which means 2017 marks its 125th Anniversary, an incredible milestone for a hotel! I felt honored to visit at such an exciting time. Thanks to its brilliant history, you will find different layers of architectural styles. The building is beautifully decorated in a blend of neoclassical, art nouveau and orient styles.
Impressively, Pera Palace Hotel was the first building in Turkey to be powered by electricity, other than the Ottoman Palaces, and was the first hotel in the city to provide hot running water for its guests. The hotel is also home to the first electric elevator in Istanbul which is still in operation today!
The hotel offers 115 elegantly furnished rooms, including 16 suites where most provide French balconies. There are 44 Deluxe Rooms which offer characteristic street views of Pera. The 30 sqm rooms are airy, featuring high ceilings. The style is classic, with fresh almond green and rich burgundy interiors, furnished in sumptuous fabrics along with antique furniture. Most of the Deluxe Rooms also feature individual French balconies.
I was lucky to stay in a Deluxe Golden Horn King Room which included one of those beautiful balconies that opened onto the street. The furnishings were very tasteful, comfortable, and a perfect blend of the old and the new.
My room had a nice surprise of tasty Turkish delights waiting for me which I thought was a very nice touch.
In the bathroom glass artwork had been added to divide the bed and white Carrara marble clad bathroom, allowing natural light to stream through. My bathroom had a soaking tub which was also the shower.
Over Pera Palace’s incredible 125 years, the hotel has hosted some very special guests. Celebrities like Greta Garbo and politicians such as famous Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk are just a couple notable people to pass through those opulent doors. To honor their time at the hotel, you can stay in one of six Greta Garbo themed corner rooms or visit the incredible Ataturk Suite. This suite is a museum room dedicated to the founder of the modern Turkish state. He stayed in this room many times himself!
One very special room is the Agatha Christie King Room. Novelist Agatha Christie wrote her novel “Murder on the Orient Express” during one of her stays at the Pera Palace Hotel! Fans of the renowned murder mystery writer can stay in the exact room she stayed in, Room 411. It serves both as a memorial to Christie, and a place of pilgrimage for fans wanting to spend the night there. You can definitely see where she got her inspiration for the novel. Guests can immerse themselves into an extensive library set against a dramatic burgundy and black backdrop which creates the perfect feeling of mystery and intrigue. They also have a typewriter from her era in the room!
Another notable guest was American writer Ernest Hemingway who stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel when he was a young war reporter in 1922. He was also a regular patron of the Orient Bar. There are five suites each paying tribute to this literary giant. The interiors are decorated in a jade blue reflecting Hemingway’s love for the sea and an earthy brown as a nod to his love for cigars.
I ate very well during my short stay at the Pera Palace Hotel. Their iconic Kubbeli Lounge just exudes glamor with its high domed ceilings, live piano music, and decadent food. I enjoyed a late-night dinner here and can highly recommend their Caesar salad, pizzas, and the impressive wine selection.
Next to the Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge is The Library Room which is always a great place to relax with an evening cocktail.
The Agatha Restaurant, paying tribute to the three major stops of the former Orient Express -Paris, Venice and Istanbul – serves a blend of French, Italian and Turkish flavors. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing an elegant setting for meetings and social gatherings throughout the day. I enjoyed the wonderful breakfast buffet they offered. My cheese and mushroom omelette was delicious.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you need to try Patisserie de Pera which is a traditional French patisserie. The menu serves classic French cakes and pastries, as well as a wide selection of the finest coffee and teas from across the globe.
Although I didn’t get the chance to experience the spa, I was impressed with the cozy, calm, and contemporary space I saw. The Pera Spa features three ultra luxury treatments rooms, traditionally designed Turkish bath, a steam bath, Jacuzzi, sauna, fully equipped gym, and an indoor jet-streamed swimming pool. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect place to unwind and relax for a few hours while in Istanbul! I look forward to taking advantage of their extensive treatment list and beautiful facilities during my next visit.
My stay at the Pera Palace Hotel felt like an escape back in time. The historic grandness of the hotel mixed with modern features created an absolute feast for the eyes! I only hope I can stay for longer next time and soak up more of their incredible history.
Note: I was a guest of the Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, and all the opinions here are my own.